Looking North

Almost everyone is getting tired of the healthcare debate as it goes on and on–a fire that keeps burning without much new fuel to feed it. One of the striking, and disturbing, aspects of the debate is the lack of facts to back up the wild speculation of many participants. The S.F. Chronicle this morning had an article that clarifies some of the misconceptions about the Canadian healthcare system that are beging spread in the U.S. Many Canadians are watching in horror as Americans spread wild rumors about what goes on just north of our border. For starters, it’s not true that Canadians can’t choose their own doctor. They can, and most have a wider choice than Americans who are tied into the network authorized by their insurance company. The length of time to wait for treatment has also been wildly exaggerated. Emergency treatment is provided as quickly as it is in the U.S., as are treatments for acute illnesses and lifesaving surgical procedures. Elective surgery may have to be postponed, especially in rural areas, but that is true for many Americans too. It is important to look at our neighbors as well as ourselves when we make sweeping generalizations about health services. This article is a good primer to start with.

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